WASHINGTON – The NFL is prepared to meet with an Indian tribe pushing for the Washington Redskins to drop the teams nickname.
As league owners gathered Monday in the nations capital for their fall meetings, the Oneida Indian Nation held a symposium across town to promote their Change the Mascot campaign. Oneida representative Ray Halbritter said the NFL was invited to attend.
Instead, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said, a meeting has been scheduled for next month – and could happen sooner.
We respect that people have differing views, McCarthy said. It is important that we listen to all perspectives.
He said the Redskins name is not on the agenda for the owners meetings. Redskins owner Dan Snyder has vowed to keep the name.
President Barack Obama said in an interview with the Associated Press last week that he would think about changing the teams name if he were the owner.
Halbritter called that statement nothing less than historic and said the teams nickname is a divisive epithet ... and an outdated sign of division and hate.
Addressing the NFL, Halbritter said: It is hypocritical to say youre Americas pastime but not represent the ideals of America.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., said the league and team are promoting a racial slur and this issue is not going away.
For years, a group of American Indians has tried to block the team from having federal trademark protection, and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbias envoy to Congress, predicted Monday that effort eventually will succeed.
This name is going to go into the dustbin of history, she said.
Lanny Davis, a lawyer who said he has been advising Snyder on the name issue for at least several months, said: The Washington Redskins support peoples feelings, but the overwhelming data is that Native Americans are not offended and only a small minority are.
Davis also said the campaign is showing selective attention by focusing on the Redskins and not teams such as the NFLs Kansas City Chiefs, NHLs Chicago Blackhawks, or Major League Baseballs Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves.
Earlier, Halbritter was asked about those other nicknames.
The name of Washingtons team is a dictionary-defined, offensive racial epithet. Those other names arent, Halbritter said.